SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Iceland's Supreme Court has ruled that Valitor (formerly Visa Iceland) must pay WikiLeaks $204,900 per month or $2,494,604 per year in fines if it continues to blockade the whistle-blowing site.
The court upheld the decision that Valitor had unlawfully terminated its contract with WikiLeaks' donation processor, DataCell.
"Today's decision marked the most important victory to date against the unlawful and arbitrary economic blockade erected by US companies against WikiLeaks," the organization's press release stated.
WikiLeaks asserts that the financial blockade was imposed after the site published leaks exposing corruption within Iceland in December 2010. The leak shed light onto why the country's banking system collapsed in 2008.
The Icelandic Supreme Court is the highest court in Iceland. There is no route of appeal for Valitor.
Economic blockades against WikiLeaks have starved the whistle-blowing site of funds, prompting WikiLeaks to launch fundraisers on its main page. WikiLeaks has previously accused "hard-right US politicians" of orchestrating the "extrajudicial" banking blockade against it.
Freedom of the press campaigners such as Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Elsberg and actor John Cusack have launched the Freedom of the Press Foundation, aimed at collecting money for WikiLeaks. The organization allows donors to make anonymous, tax-deductible donations.
A similar legal battle is currently taking place against a Danish sub-contractor for Visa, equivalent to Valitor.
Last November, the European Parliament passed a resolution which included a clause drafted specifically in relation to the economic blockade against WikiLeaks. The resolution called on the European Commission to draft regulations which would prevent online payment facilitators from arbitrarily denying services to companies or organizations, such as WikiLeaks.
The whistle-blowing site says it has launched a formal complaint to the European Commission on the basis that Visa and MasterCard have unlawfully abused their dominant market position. The two credit card companies currently take up 95 per cent of the European market. It remains unclear whether the Commission will open a formal investigation.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Horacio Cartes of the Colorado Party has been declared the winner of Paraguay's presidential elections by the South American country's electoral board.
Efrain Alegre, 50, a lawyer and career politician in the ruling Liberal Party, conceded defeat after several exit polls predicted a big win for his rival, 56-year-old Cartes, a millionaire businessman, in Sunday's election.
The country's electoral tribunal said citing results from 35 percent of polling stations that Cartes - with 46.1 percent of votes - was winning the election by more than nine percentage points over Alegre, with 36.9 percent.
Pollster Ati Snead's survey indicated that Cartes had won the election by capturing 44.4 percent of votes, with Alegre bagging 37.9 percent.
An exit poll by First Analisis y Estudios showed Cartes winning with 50.8 percent of votes versus 37 percent for Alegre.
A third exit poll showed Cartes with a nearly 21 percentage point lead over Alegre at 53.5 percent of votes, according to the Institute for Communication and Art.
Paraguay's 3.5 million voters also cast ballots on Sunday for the country's legislature and 17 governors.
Cartes is a political novice who never even voted before joining the Colorado Party four years ago.
He has pledged to reform his party, which was tainted by corruption during its 60-year reign through 2008.
Alegre's Liberal Party took over the presidency after withdrawing support for President Fernando Lugo and clearing the way for his impeachment in June.
The leftist coalition that swept him to power has since split, although Lugo was again on the ballot - this time as a Senate candidate.
Congress removed Lugo, a leftist and former Roman Catholic bishop, after finding him guilty of mishandling a botched land eviction in which 17 police officers and peasant farmers were killed.
Some of Paraguay's neighbours compared the two-day trial to a coup and imposed diplomatic sanctions on the South American nation.
Lugo's administration was also rocked by a sex scandal, after he was forced to admit to having fathered two children out of wedlock while he was still a priest, and he faces at least two other as-yet unresolved paternity suits.
Paraguay's current president, Federico Franco, is barred by the constitution from running for re-election even though he is just serving out what remained of Lugo's five-year term. He will hand over the presidency in August.
One of Paraguay's wealthiest men, Cartes primarily made his fortune in the financial and tobacco industries.
Rivals have tried to link him to drug running and money laundering, but he has never been charged with those crimes.
"The accusations made during this campaign have no truth to them, and personally I am very serene," Cartes said early on Sunday.
Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez, reporting from Asuncion on Sunday, said many voters told her they were disillusioned by Lugo and wanted the Colorado Party to return to power.
"I talked to many people here who wanted change and since they were disillusioned by Lugo, they said change meant going back to the very conservative Colorado Party," she said.
While Alegre has led corruption investigations in Congress, his reputation as an honest administrator was undermined by an investigation into whether he misappropriated state funds while serving as Lugo's public works minister.
"My leadership model is different from the traditional one. My project represents a 'decent Paraguay' versus the 'Paraguay of the mafias'," Alegre told Reuters news agency in a recent interview.
Polls were open from 7am to 4pm (1100 to 2000 GMT) and international observers said they had received no fraud complaints by midday.
There is no second round of balloting so the presidential candidate who captures the most votes wins. Voters also elected local authorities and members of Congress.
Once Cartes' victory is confirmed, Paraguay will have a right-leaning government, defying the trend in South America where leftists have made steady gains in recent years.
Only Colombia and Chile are ruled by conservatives.
Nearly 40 percent of Paraguay's 6.6 million people are poor. The landlocked country relies on soya-bean and beef exports, but it is also notorious for contraband trade and illicit financing.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Jazeera
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Ruling party candidate Nicolas Maduro has narrowly won Venezuela's presidential election with 50.8 percent of votes, the electoral authority has said, allowing him to carry forward the policies of the late Hugo Chavez.
Maduro's challenger, Miranda state Governor Henrique Capriles, took 49.1 percent of the ballots, the authority said on Sunday, in a tighter-than-expected vote.
After a brief and bitter campaign, Venezuelans were forced to wait anxiously for results into Sunday night with counting reportedly too close to call and both sides expressing confidence of victory .
Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman, reporting from Caracas, said the situation was "extremely tense" and described the hard-fought election as a "nail-biter".
Capriles said there were attempts to let people vote after polling stations closed.
Earlier, he accused the government of pressuring civil servants to vote for Maduro.
Maduro inherited Chavez's formidable electoral machinery, which helped the late leader win successive elections in 14 years, with government employees often seen handing campaign pamphlets and attending rallies in groups.
Both candidates had pledged during the campaign to recognise the vote results.
Capriles hopes discontent over the nation's soaring murder rate, chronic food shortages, high inflation and regular power outages would give him an upset victory.
Capriles voted in an upper-class neighbourhood, kissing a statue of the Virgin Mary after voting and urging Venezuelans to report any election abuses.
"What we want is for this country to have a true democracy, a democracy for all, a country where we can all exercise our rights without the possibility of any reprisal," the 40-year-old state governor said.
Maduro was widely expected to win the right to complete the new six-year term Chavez won in October, promising to continue oil-funded policies that cut poverty from 50 to 29 percent with popular health, education and food programs.
Chavez named Maduro, a former bus driver and union activist who rose to foreign minister and vice president, as his political heir in December before undergoing a final round of cancer surgery.
Chavez died on March 5 aged 58.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Jazeera
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The United Arab Emirates succeeded on Monday in its bid for election to the 47-nation U.N. Human Rights Council for a three-year term starting from early 2013.
The Gulf state was elected in a secret ballot conducted by the U.N. General Assembly in which 21 candidate countries from 18 geographical groups competed for 18 vacant seats.
The UAE got 184 votes, the highest vote turnout of the total votes garnered by the four winning Asian countries and the second highest votes of the total 18 winners.
Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, and Sierra Leone were elected from Africa, and Japan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, South Korea joined the United Arab Emirates from the Asia Group.
Estonia and Monte Negro were elected from Eastern Europe, while Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela secured seats on behalf of the Latin America and Caribbean Group.
The UAE foreign affairs minister, Anwar Mohammad Gargash, welcomed the UAE’s victory.
“The win crowned a series of achievements made by the UAE in its human rights record over the recent years, particularly in areas of legislations to uphold and protect fundamental freedoms and legal rights of individuals, rights of women and children and advanced regulations on rights of foreign workforce,” the official said, according to AFP news agency.
He added: ‘The UAE win of the seat for the next three years will lay on our shoulder additional onus and commitment to stay our course firmly in consistence with constitutional principleson which the UAE state is built and which place respect for human rights at the top of national priorities.’’
The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly also elected 17 other countries for terms beginning in January. The United States won the most votes of the regional group “Western Europe and Others,” followed by Germany and Ireland.
‘Excessive, unbalanced focus on Israel’
The United States succeeded in its bid for re-election to the Council, a Geneva-based watchdog that has been criticized by Washington and Israel for singling out the Jewish state for criticism.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice welcomed Washington’s re-election, saying that the Human Rights Council “has delivered real results” since the United States first joined it in 2010 after running for a seat on it in 2009. She cited council action on Syria as a positive example of its work.
However, she criticized the rights council’s “excessive and unbalanced focus on Israel,” according to Reuters news agency.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed Rice’s comments.
“We pledge to continue to work closely with the international community to address urgent and serious human rights concerns worldwide and to strengthen the (rights) council,” Clinton said in a statement.
The United States had boycotted the Human Rights Council until 2009, when the administration of President Barack Obama reversed U.S. policy and ran for a seat on the body in an effort to reform it from within.
Greece and Sweden failed to secure spots on the council in the “Western Europe and Others” category, the only regional group that had a competitive slate. Other regional groups had uncompetitive slates that assured victory for those in the running as there were enough seats for all candidates.."— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Television networks projected that Barack Obama won re-election as U.S. president over Republican Mitt Romney in Tuesday’s election despite a sluggish economy and high unemployment.
Obama appears to have ridden signature first-term accomplishments including the auto industry bailout and the killing of 9/11 terrorist attack mastermind Osama bin Laden to another four years in the White House.
His apparent victory ensures continued implementation of signature health care and financial sector reform laws and could bring higher taxes for the wealthy as part of deficit-cutting efforts.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — In a shocking development, the family of a Muslim man in an apparently vegetative state have produced video evidence showing he can still move his eyes and mouth after doctors’ advice to leave him die.
Dr Peter Newman witnessed footage that showed a “closing of eyes and grimacing” when L's eyes were cleaned,” Jenni Richards QC, for the family, told the Telegraph reported.
“On the basis of what he had seen on the video footage, Dr Newman's view, shared with all the parties, was that Mr L was no longer in a persistent vegetative state,” he added.
L, a Muslim man from Manchester, suffered a heart attack in mid-July, leaving him with severe brain damage.
He is tube-fed, has a catheter and does not move or respond to verbal command or physical stimulus.
Doctors said the Muslim man was in a persistent vegetative state and that ventilation or resuscitation would not be in his best interest.
Relatives of the 55-year-old pleaded with doctors to keep him alive in the hope that Allah would make him better.
After objections from the Muslim family, doctors removed the notice.
Yet, Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust applied to the Court of Protection for an order that it would not be in L’s best interests to resuscitate him or put him on a ventilator if his condition worsens.
A surprise then occurred when the family filmed Mr. L grimacing and closing his eyes, which convinced Dr Newman that his condition had improved.
The expert now believed the patient was "most likely in a minimally conscious state", and the family believe further improvement may yet take place which may even lead to “verbal communication,” Richards QC added.
The Court of Protection case has now been adjourned until October 1st for fresh evidence to be considered.
NHS Trust has been ordered to ensure that the patient, known only as L, is resuscitated should his health deteriorate.
Claire Watson, appearing for the Trust, accepted that "clearly there has been a change in the diagnosis" but said it may not yet alter the care plan set out for the patient.
Avoiding a disaster of withholding a life-saving treatment for Mr. L, the case shows a controversial issue that popped up recently as hospitals applied to courts to withhold or withdraw treatment from patients.
“The family feel vindicated in contesting the Trust’s application, but even more importantly they are relieved that medically L is not in a vegetative state and there is hope of recovery,” Helen Lewis, clinical negligence solicitor with Pannone, said.
“It is certainly a sobering thought that the Trust would have put in place a ‘Do not resuscitate’ order if the family had not have challenged their stance through the legal system,” she added.
In recent weeks, hospitals have gone to court to withhold or withdraw treatment from patients, in the face of opposition from religious relatives, in at least three cases.
In one case, a judge ruled that a baby left comatose after a “catastrophic accident” could have his ventilator switched off by doctors, despite his parents’ belief that “where there’s life there’s hope”.
Another judge agreed that medics could remove life-support from an eight-year-old boy, again after his devout Christian family’s pleas for him to be kept alive in case of a miracle.
Medics complain that the views of relatives are causing concern, with Great Ormond Street experts claiming that parents who believe in divine intervention are putting children through aggressive but futile treatments.
In Islam, euthanasia, which involves the act of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, is forbidden as a major sin.
As for the suspension of medical treatment via preventing the patient from his due medication which is, from a medical perspective, thought to be useless, this is permissible and sometimes it is even recommended.
Thus, the physician can do this for the sake of the patient’s comfort and the relief of his family.—www.shafaqna.com/english
source: ON Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Iranian Greco-Roman wrestler Omid Norouzi has won the gold medal in the men’s 60-kg category following a convincing win over his Georgian opponent in the London 2012 Olympics.
Norouzi defeated Revaz Lashkhi from Georgia 1-0 in both the first and second 2 minutes of the match held at the London’s ExCeL to claim the gold.
The 26-year-old Iranian athlete had overcome his Chinese, Bulgarian, Kazakh and Japanese rivals in his march to the final bout on Monday.
Norouzi’s victory came after another Iranian Greco-Roman wrestler Hamid Sourian won the gold medal in the men’s 55-kg category following victory over Rovshan Bayramov, his Azerbaijani opponent on Sunday.
Sourian’s gold medal marked the first after 40 years of the national Iranian Greco-Roman team’s participation in the Olympic Games.
Iran has dispatched a team of 54 athletes to London’s 2012 Olympics contesting in a variety of fields, including archery, table tennis, wrestling, weightlifting, rowing, boxing, track and field, swimming and taekwondo.
More than 10,000 athletes from over 200 nations are participating in London’s 2012 summer Olympic Games. —www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: Press TV